Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium


This compendium includes significant criminal cases by the U.S. Supreme Court & N.C. appellate courts, Nov. 2008 – Present. Selected 4th Circuit cases also are included.

Jessica Smith prepared case summaries Nov. 2008-June 4, 2019; later summaries are prepared by other School staff.


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E.g., 04/13/2024
E.g., 04/13/2024
(Dec. 31, 1969)

In this Davidson County case, defendant appealed his conviction for possession of a controlled substance, arguing error in (1) denying his motion to suppress the evidence obtained from a search of his vehicle, and (2) denying his motion to dismiss for insufficient evidence that he knowingly possessed cocaine. The Court of Appeals found no error. 

In July of 2019, defendant was driving with two passengers when he was pulled over for failing to yield. After the officers had returned ID cards to defendant and his passengers, one officer asked for permission to search the vehicle. Defendant told the officer that he was on probation and had to allow the search. The officers discovered cocaine and drug paraphernalia during a search of the vehicle. Before trial, defendant filed a motion to suppress, which was denied. Defendant failed to object during trial when the State admitted evidence obtained through the search.  

Taking up (1), the Court of Appeals noted the standard of review was plain error as defendant did not object to the admission of evidence during the trial. Here, the search of the vehicle occurred after the traffic stop had concluded. Because defendant was on probation, he is presumed to “have given consent to a search where an officer has reasonable suspicion of a crime.” Slip Op. at 5. The trial court did not provide justification in writing, but in open court stated that she concluded the officer “had reasonable suspicion to conduct the search.” Id. at 6. The court noted that, although the trial court did not consider defendant freely giving consent in the absence of reasonable suspicion, “there was sufficient evidence from which the trial court could have found as fact at trial that Defendant voluntarily consented to the search had Defendant objected when the evidence was offered by the State.” Id. at 7. As a result, defendant could not show plain error from the failure to suppress. 

Dispensing with (2), the court noted that the State presented “evidence of other incriminating circumstances, including the placement of the cocaine in the driver’s door, as well as the Defendant’s nervous behavior,” to support the inference that defendant constructively possessed the cocaine. Id. at 8.

Judge Arrowood concurred by separate opinion, writing to address the analysis of the trial court related to the officer’s reasonable suspicion to extend the stop and conduct a search. 

(Dec. 31, 1969) , COA22-996, ___ N.C. App. ___ 2023-09-12

In this Mecklenburg County case, defendant appealed denial of his motion to suppress, arguing that (1) police did not have reasonable suspicion to stop him, and (2) he did not consent to the search of his backpack. The Court of Appeals found reasonable suspicion supported the stop but that defendant did not consent to the search, and reversed the denial of defendant’s motion.

In January of 2020, defendant, a homeless man, was walking with a bicycle on a dirt path in Charlotte when two officers of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department approached him. The officers had previously received a tip that a person matching defendant’s description and riding a bike was carrying an illegal firearm. When the officers approached defendant, they gave conflicting reasons for the approach, with one officer referencing trespass and the other officer noting it was a street-level drug sales area. Defendant consented to a pat-down of his person and removed his backpack. At that point, one officer asked for permission to search the backpack; defendant initially consented to the search, but quickly told officers he did not want them to search the backpack. After an exchange with the officers where defendant told them he was cold and scared of the police, defendant eventually opened the backpack and allowed a search, resulting in the officers finding a stolen firearm. The officers arrested defendant, and in the search incident to arrest, discovered cocaine and marijuana in his pockets. At trial, defendant objected to admission of the results of the search, and the trial court denied the motion, finding that the initial contact was voluntary and defendant consented to the search of his backpack. Defendant entered an Alford plea and appealed. When defendant’s appeal was first taken up by the Court of Appeals, the court remanded for further findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding law enforcement’s belief that defendant was trespassing. The trial court entered an amended order denying the motion with new findings of fact and conclusions of law, which defendant again appealed. 

Taking up defendant’s arguments in the current opinion, the Court of Appeals first looked to the findings of fact and conclusions of law challenged by defendant, finding that three findings related to trespassing and one related to the return of defendant’s identification prior to the search were not supported by evidence in the record. After striking four findings of fact, the court turned to (1) the reasonable suspicion analysis, determining that “the officers had reasonable suspicion to stop, question, and perform a protective search of [defendant] based on the informant’s tip.” Slip Op. at 12. The court noted that evidence in the record provided adequate justification for the reasonable suspicion that defendant was armed, justifying a protective search after stopping him. 

Turning to (2), the court found that defendant did not voluntarily consent to the search of his backpack. Explaining the standard for voluntary consent, the court explained that “[t]o be voluntary, consent must be free from coercion, express or implied,” and when making this determination “the court must consider the possibility of subtly coercive questions from those with authority, as well as the possibly vulnerable subjective state of the person who consents.” Id. at 17-18. Here, the officers asked defendant “five times within a period of about one and a half minutes” for permission, even though defendant continued to refuse. Id. at 18. The court went on to explain that:

The combination of multiple uniformed police officers surrounding an older homeless man and making repeated requests to search his backpack on a cold, dark night after he repeatedly asserted his right not to be searched leads us to the conclusion that [defendant’s] consent was the result of coercion and duress and therefore was not freely given.

Id. at 18-19. 

After establishing the officers did not have consent, the court also established that they did not have probable cause to search the backpack based on the tip. The court explained that while the tip was sufficient to create reasonable suspicion for a frisk of defendant, it did not create sufficient probable cause for a search of the backpack. The informant “did not provide any basis for his knowledge about the criminal activity,” and “did not predict any future behavior,” elements that would have demonstrated sufficient reliability for probable cause. Id. at 21. Because the officers did not have consent or probable cause to conduct the search, the court reversed the denial of the motion to dismiss and vacated defendant’s Alford plea. 


(Dec. 31, 1969) , ___ N.C. App. ___, 2022-NCCOA-214 2022-04-05 temp. stay granted, ___ N.C. ___, 871 S.E.2d 808 (May 11 2022)

Law enforcement in Guilford County received information that the defendant was selling drugs from his girlfriend’s apartment. They conducted a controlled buy at the location with the help of an informant, who identified the defendant as the seller. Police were later surveilling the home and saw the defendant leave with his girlfriend in her car. The car was stopped for speeding 12 mph over the limit. The stopping officer saw the defendant reach for the center console and smelled a strong odor of marijuana upon approach. The officer removed the occupants from the car and searched it, leading to the discovery of marijuana. During the search, an officer contacted the drug investigators about the possibility of notifying the defendant of the wider drug investigation. This took approximately five to seven minutes. The on-scene officers then informed the pair of the ongoing drug investigation of the defendant and sought consent to search the apartment, which the girlfriend gave. A gun and cocaine were discovered there, and the defendant was charged with firearm by felon and possession of cocaine. He moved to suppress, arguing that the traffic stop was unreasonably extended and that any consent was invalid. The trial court denied the motion, and the defendant entered a guilty plea, preserving his right to appeal the denial of the motion. On appeal, the Court of Appeal unanimously affirmed.

(1) The defendant argued since the police never acted on the speeding or marijuana offenses discovered during the traffic stop, the mission of the stop was complete, and the officer deviated from the mission of the stop by delving into an unrelated drug investigation and seeking consent to search the apartment. The court disagreed:

[A]t the time Officer Fisher asked for consent to search the Apartment, there is no evidence to suggest Officer Fisher had already made a determination to refrain from charging Defendant for the traffic violation or marijuana possession. Instead, the Record seems to indicate that at the time of Officer Fisher’s request for consent to search the Apartment, the stop had not been ‘otherwise-completed’ as he had not yet made a decision on whether to charge Defendant for the marijuana possession.” Jordan Slip op. at 9-10.

The act of asking for consent to search the apartment therefore occurred during the lawful course of the stop. Further, officers had reasonable suspicion that the defendant was selling drugs, justifying extension of the stop even if the original mission of the stop was complete at the time of the request for consent. Given the tip, the controlled purchase, law enforcement surveillance of the residence (which included observing a high volume of guests visiting the home), law enforcement likely had probable cause to arrest the defendant or obtain a warrant to search the apartment. “Consequently, the officer was justified in extending the seizure to question Defendant about the sale of heroin and crack-cocaine even though it was unrelated to the traffic violation.” Id. at 12.

(2) Officers had informed the pair that police would seek a search warrant, or that they could consent to a search of the apartment. The defendant argued that this was improper coercion and that any consent was therefore involuntary and invalid. The court disagreed. The defendant and his girlfriend were informed of the right to refuse consent, the girlfriend signed a written consent form, and neither person objected or attempted to revoke consent during the search. Further, the officers did not use any threats or other “inherently coercive tactics” in obtaining consent. Thus, the trial court properly determined that consent was freely and voluntarily given. The trial court’s judgment was consequently affirmed.

(Dec. 31, 1969) , ___ N.C. App. ___, 2022 NCCOA 215 2022-04-05 temp. stay granted, ___ N.C. ___, 871 S.E.2d 101 (Apr 21 2022)

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police received a report of a stolen car and information about its possible location. Officers went to the location, which was part residence and part commercial establishment. A car matching the description of the stolen vehicle was in the back parking lot. As police watched, a man came out of the building and approached the car as if to enter it. He noticed the unmarked police car and immediately returned to the building, alerting the occupants to the presence of police. Police pulled into the driveway intending to detain the man. The defendant opened the door of the building from inside and the man who had approached the stolen car went inside, although the door was left open. An officer approached and asked the man to come out and speak with police before immediately stepping into the building through the open door. That officer noticed a safe next to the defendant and saw the defendant close the safe, lock it, and place the key in his pocket. More officers arrived on scene and noticed drug paraphernalia in plain view. Officers swept the house and discovered a gun in a bedroom. At this point, officers established that a man inside either owned or leased the building and requested his consent to search. The man initially refused but assented when officers threatened to place everyone in handcuffs and to obtain a search warrant. The defendant informed officers that anything they found in the home was not his and that he did not live there. He denied owning the safe, but a woman who was present at the time later informed officers that the safe belonged to the defendant. Officers obtained a search warrant for the safe and discovered money, drugs, paraphernalia, and a gun inside. The defendant was subsequently charged with trafficking, firearm by felon, habitual felon, and other offenses. He moved to suppress. The trial court denied the motion, apparently on the basis that the defendant lacked standing (although because no written order was entered, the findings and conclusions of the trial court were not easily determined). The defendant was convicted at trial of the underlying offenses and pled guilty to having obtained habitual felon status. The trial court imposed a minimum term of 225 months in consecutive judgments. On appeal, a unanimous panel of the Court of Appeals reversed.

(1) The defendant had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the building. He opened the door when it was knocked and was one of only four people inside the home at a late hour. The defendant further had apparent permission to keep the safe inside and clearly had an interest in it as the person with its key and the ability to exclude others. While the defendant did not own or lease the property, this was not enough to defeat his expectation of privacy. The defendant also disclaimed ownership of the safe to police, and the State argued that this amounted to abandonment, defeating any privacy interest in the safe. The court disagreed, noting that the defendant only made that remark after the police illegally entered the home and that abandonment does not apply in such a situation. In its words: “[W]hen an individual ‘discards property as the product of some illegal police activity, he will not be held to have voluntarily abandoned the property or to have necessarily lost his reasonable expectation of
privacy with respect to it[.]’” Jordan Slip op. at 14 (citation omitted). Thus, the defendant had standing to challenge the police entry and search.

(2) The trial court determined that officers had reasonable suspicion to speak with the man who was seen approaching the stolen car. However, this did not justify warrantless entry into the home. The State argued that the entry was supported by exigent circumstances, in that the keys to the stolen car and the drug paraphernalia seen inside the building could have been easily destroyed. However, there was no evidence that the first officer who approached the home saw any drug paraphernalia at the time and the officer therefore could not have had a legitimate concern about its destruction. There was likewise no explanation from the State regarding the need for immediate warrantless entry to preserve the car keys evidence. Because officers had already seen the man approach the car with the keys and because possession of a stolen car may be established by constructive possession, there was no immediate need to obtain the car keys. Further, there was no immediate risk of destruction of evidence where the occupants of the home left the door open, and an officer entered the home within “moments” of arrival. Exigent circumstances therefore did not support the warrantless entry.

(3) The State also argued that the person with a property interest in the building gave valid consent, and that this consent removed any taint of the initial illegal entry. Illegally obtained evidence may be admissible where the link between the illegal police activity and the discovery of evidence is sufficiently attenuated. Brown v. Illinois, 422 U.S. 590, 603-04 (1975). Here, the taint of the illegal entry had not dissipated. Officers obtained consent soon after entering the home, no intervening circumstances arose between the entry and the obtaining of consent, and officers purposefully and flagrantly entered the building without a warrant or probable cause. Any consent was therefore tainted by the initial police illegality and could not justify the search.

(4) Although police did ultimately obtain a search warrant for the safe, the information contained in the search warrant application was based on information obtained by police after they were inside the building. There was no evidence that officers saw any drugs prior to entry, so any evidence obtained as a result was the fruit of the poisonous tree. Without the drugs evidence, the stolen car in the parking lot, the man walking up to the stolen car, and his abrupt return from the car to the building did not supply probable cause to search the building or safe. According to the court:

Because the affidavit supporting the issuance of the search warrant, stripped of the facts obtained by the officers’ unlawful entry into the residence, does not give rise to probable cause to search the residence for the evidence of drugs and drug paraphernalia described in the warrant, ‘the warrant and the search conducted under it were illegal and the evidence obtained from them was fruit of the poisonous tree.’ Id. at 24.

The denial of the motion to suppress was therefore reversed and the case was remanded for any further proceedings.

(Dec. 31, 1969)

An officer patrolling the parking area of a park just before closing discovered the defendant asleep in her car. Based on the defendant’s positioning, he was concerned there might be a medical emergency, so he knocked on the window of her car. After he knocked several times, the defendant sat up, looked at him, and opened the driver’s side door. She said she was camping in the park with her son and decided to take a nap in her car. Her speech was slurred, her eyes were bloodshot, and she was unsteady on her feet when she got out of her car. The officer also saw track marks on her arms that were consistent with heroin use. The officer asked for the defendant’s license, and, while holding it, asked for consent to search the defendant’s car and her purse, which was sitting in the front seat of the car. 

The State and defendant presented conflicting evidence about what happened next. The officer said that defendant responded, “Sure.” The defendant said the officer asked three times for permission to search her car and each time she said, “I would really rather you not.” She said she only consented to the search after the officer threatened to arrest her.

The officer searched the defendant’s purse and found several syringes in its top section. He then asked the defendant whether she was carrying anything illegal. The defendant asked whether she was going to jail. The officer told her that he would not take her to jail if she cooperated. The defendant told him she had a syringe containing heroin in the side compartment of her purse. The officer found the syringe there, along with a burnt spoon and two grams of heroin.

The defendant was not arrested that evening, but subsequently was indicted for possession of heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia. She filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the search, which the trial court denied. She pled guilty, preserving her right to appeal. On appeal, she argued that she did not voluntarily consent to the search of her purse, and that the trial court’s findings on that issue were insufficient. The court of appeals disagreed. Rejecting the defendant’s argument to the contrary, the court explained that the question of whether consent to search was voluntary is one of fact, not law.

The trial court determined that the defendant freely gave consent to the officer to search her vehicle and her purse. This finding was supported by the officer’s testimony at the suppression hearing that he asked defendant for consent to search her car and purse, and she said, “Sure.” The court of appeals concluded, therefore, that the trial court’s finding that the defendant’s consent was “freely given” was supported by competent evidence and was binding on appeal. Though the trial court failed to make a specific finding that the search did not violate the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights, the appellate court reached that conclusion based on the finding of fact that the defendant voluntarily consented to the search. Thus, the court of appeals concluded that the trial court did not err in denying the defendant’s motion to suppress.

(Dec. 31, 1969) , ___ N.C. App. ___, 818 S.E.2d 710 2018-08-07

The trial court properly denied the defendant’s motion to suppress heroin discovered following a search of the defendant during a traffic stop. A tactical narcotics officer noticed a Lincoln sedan weaving in and out of heavy traffic at high speeds, nearly causing multiple collisions. The vehicle pulled into a Sonic Drive-In parking lot next to an unoccupied Honda. The defendant, a passenger in the Lincoln, exited the vehicle, approached the Honda, and placed his hand inside the passenger window of that vehicle. The driver of the Honda appeared and spoke with the defendant briefly. The defendant then returned to the Lincoln and the vehicle drove away. No one in the Lincoln had ordered any food. Based on his experience, the officer concluded that the defendant had participated in a drug transaction. Other officers then saw the Lincoln go to a gas station. A second officer radioed that the vehicle continued to be driven in a careless and reckless manner, at approximately 15 miles per hour over the speed limit. After the vehicle left the gas station, the first officer stopped it for reckless driving and speeding. Four other officers participated in the stop; all five officers were in uniform. The first officer approached the passenger side of the vehicle, while two others approached the driver’s side. The officer approaching the passenger side saw the defendant reach toward the floorboard. Because he did not know whether the defendant had a weapon or was trying to conceal contraband, the officer asked the defendant to show his hands. The defendant raised his hands, which were daubed in a light pink substance that the defendant stated was fabric softener. The officer ordered the defendant out of the vehicle and asked whether he was attempting to conceal something. The defendant denied doing so. The officer testified that when he asked for the defendant’s consent to search his person the defendant gave consent saying, “go ahead.” The defendant testified that he never consented to a search. When the officer proceeded to pat down the defendant he noticed a larger than normal bulge near the groin area that was not consistent with “male parts.” The officer then detained the defendant in handcuffs, believing that he had contraband on his person. The officer asked the defendant if he had anything inside of his underwear and the defendant said that he did. The officer asked the defendant if he would retrieve the item and the defendant said he would. The officer removed the handcuffs, the defendant reached into his pants and produced a plastic bag containing heroin. He was then placed under arrest.

                  The court first found that the defendant consented to the search, rejecting the defendant’s argument that his consent was not voluntary given the coercive environment fostered by the police. The defendant argued that his race is highly relevant to the determination of whether he voluntarily consented to the search because people of color will view a “request” to search by the police as an inherently coercive command, and he cited various studies in support of this claim. The court agreed that the defendant’s race may be a relevant factor in considering whether consent was voluntary. However, aside from the studies presented by the defendant, the record is devoid of any indication that the defendant’s consent in this case was involuntary. To the contrary, the circumstances show that the defendant’s consent was freely and intelligently made. Although multiple officers were present, only the first officer interacted with the defendant. When the officer approached the vehicle he asked the defendant whether he had anything illegal and the defendant said that he did not. The officer then asked if he could search the defendant’s person, to which the defendant responded “go ahead.” No other conversation occurred. There is no evidence that the defendant was unaware of his ability to refuse the request or that he feared retribution had he done so. There is no indication that the officer made threats, used harsh language, or raised his voice. There is no evidence of any physical contact with the defendant. Additionally, the officers’ firearms remain holstered throughout the encounter.

                  The court next rejected the defendant’s argument that the scope of his consent to search his person did not include a frisk of his private parts, and lacking probable cause or exigent circumstances to justify such a search, the pat down of his groin area was unconstitutional. The court concluded that because the defendant’s consent encompassed the sort of limited frisk that was performed, neither probable cause nor exigency was required to justify the search. The pat down of the defendant’s groin area was within the bounds of what a reasonable person would have expected the search to include. The officer limited his pat down to the outer layer of the defendant’s clothing. He did not reach into the defendant’s pants to search his undergarments or directly touch his groin area. Nothing about the search involved the exposure of the defendant’s privates to the officer or to the public. And there is no evidence that the groin pat down was conducted in an unreasonably offensive manner. Thus, the court concluded that a reasonable person in the defendant’s position would have understood his consent to include the sort of limited outer pat down that was performed here.

                  Finally, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the officer’s continued detention of him after searching his groin area was not justified by the plain feel doctrine. During the pat down the officer felt a bulge that he determined was not consistent with male body parts and was obviously contraband. When coupled with the totality of the circumstances already observed by the officer, this discovery amounted to reasonable suspicion justifying further detention of the defendant to question him about the contents of his clothing.

(Dec. 31, 1969) , ___ N.C. App. ___, 811 S.E.2d 713 2018-02-20

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that his consent to search his rental vehicle was involuntary because it was given at a time when the stop had been unduly prolonged. Specifically, the defendant argued that the stop was prolonged because of questioning by the officer and the time he was detained while waiting for a second officer to arrive to assist with the search. An officer stopped the defendant for traffic violations. After routine questioning, the officer asked the defendant to step out of the vehicle and for permission to search the defendant. The defendant consented. After frisking the defendant, the officer placed the defendant in the patrol car and ran database checks on the defendant’s license. The officer continued to ask the defendant questions while waiting for the checks to finish. The officer asked the defendant if there were guns or drugs in the car and for consent to search the vehicle. The defendant said he did not want the officer to search “my shit,” meaning his property. The officer asked the defendant what property he had in the vehicle. The defendant said that his property included a bag and two hoodies. The defendant said that the officer could search the car but not his personal property. The officer then called for backup, explaining that he could not search the car without another officer present. A second officer arrived 3 to 5 minutes after the backup call and the defendant’s property was removed from the vehicle. One of the officers began to search the defendant’s vehicle. The officer brought his K-9 to the vehicle and it failed to alert to narcotics. The dog then sniffed the bag and indicated that there were narcotics inside. The case was before the court on remand from the state Supreme Court. That court had held that the initial traffic stop was valid; that the officer lawfully frisked the defendant without prolonging the stop; that the officer’s database checks on the defendant’s license did not unduly prolong the stop; and that the conversation that occurred was sufficient to form reasonable suspicion authorizing the dog sniff of the vehicle and bag. Because all parts of the stop were lawfully extended, the trial court did not err in determining that the defendant’s consent to search his vehicle was voluntary.

(Dec. 31, 1969) , ___ N.C. App. ___, 807 S.E.2d 617 2017-11-07

Because the trial court’s findings of fact do not support its conclusion that the defendant was legally seized at the time consented to a search of his person, the court reversed the trial court’s order denying the defendant’s motion to suppress contraband found on his person. Officers were conducting surveillance on a known drug house. They noticed the defendant leave the residence in a truck and return 20 minutes later. He parked his truck in the driveway and walked toward a woman in the driveway of a nearby residence. The two began yelling at each other. Thinking the confrontation was going to escalate, the officers got out of their vehicle and separated the two. One officer asked the defendant for his identification. The officer checked the defendant’s record, verifying that the defendant had no pending charges. Without returning the defendant’s identification, the officer then asked the defendant if he had any narcotics on him and the defendant replied that he did not. At the officer’s request, the defendant consented to a search of his person and vehicle. Drugs were found in his pants pocket. On appeal, the defendant argued that when the officer failed to return his identification after finding no outstanding warrants and after the initial reason for the detention was satisfied, the seizure became unlawful and the defendant’s consent was not voluntary. The court agreed. It noted that the officer failed to return the defendant’s identification before pursuing an inquiry into possession of drugs. It found that the trial court’s order failed to provide findings of fact which would give rise to a reasonable suspicion that the defendant was otherwise subject to detention. Absent a reasonable suspicion to justify further delay, retaining the defendant’s driver’s license beyond the point of satisfying the initial purpose of the detention—the escalating the conflict, checking the defendant’s identification, and verifying that he had no outstanding warrants—was unreasonable. Thus, the defendant’s consent to search his person, given during the period of unreasonable detention, was not voluntary.

(Dec. 31, 1969)

In this drug case, the court held that the defendant’s consent to search his room in a rooming house was voluntarily given. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that he was in custody at the time consent was given. There was no evidence that the defendant’s movements were limited by the officers during the encounter. Also, the officers did not supervise the defendant while they were in the home; rather, they simply followed the defendant to his room after he gave consent to search.

(Dec. 31, 1969)

The trial court did not err by finding that the defendant consented to a search of his residence. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court must make specific findings regarding the voluntariness of consent even when there is no conflict in the evidence on the issue. Here, there was a conflict regarding whether the defendant gave consent, not whether if given it was voluntary.

(Dec. 31, 1969)

The fact that officers advised the defendant that if he did not consent to giving oral swabs and surrendering certain items of clothing they would detain him until they obtained a search warrant did not negate the defendant’s voluntary consent to the seizure of those items.

(Dec. 31, 1969)

The defendant voluntarily consented to allow officers to take a saliva sample for DNA testing. The defendant was told that the sample could be used to exonerate him in ongoing investigations of break-ins and assaults on women that occurred in Charlotte in 1998. The defendant argued that because the detective failed to inform him of all of the charges that were being investigated—specifically, rape and sexual assault—his consent was involuntary. Following State v. Barkley, 144 N.C. App. 514 (2001), the court rejected this argument. The court concluded that the consent was voluntary even though the defendant did not know that the assaults were of a sexual nature and that a reasonable person in the defendant’s position would have understood that the DNA could be used generally for investigative purposes.

(Dec. 31, 1969)

A warrantless search of the defendant’s car was valid on grounds of consent. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that his consent was invalid because the officer who procured it was not fluent in Spanish. The court noted that the defendant was non-responsive to initial questions posed in English, but that he responded when spoken to in Spanish. The officer asked simple questions about weapons or drugs and when he gestured to the car and asked to “look,” the defendant nodded in the affirmative. Although not fluent in Spanish, the officer had Spanish instruction in high school and college and the two conversed entirely in Spanish for periods of up to 30 minutes. The officer asked open ended-questions which the defendant answered appropriately. The defendant never indicated that he did not understand a question. The court also rejected the defendant’s argument that his consent was invalid because the officer wore a sidearm while seeking the consent, concluding that the mere presence of a holstered sidearm does not render consent involuntary.

(Dec. 31, 1969)

The evidence supported the trial court’s conclusion that the defendant voluntarily consented to a search of his home. Although an officer aimed his gun at the defendant when he thought that the defendant was attempting to flee, the officer promptly lowered the gun. While the officers kicked down the door, they did not immediately handcuff the defendant. Rather, the defendant sat in his living room and conversed freely with the officers, and one officer escorted him to a neighbor’s house to obtain child care. The defendant consented to a search of his house when asked after a protective sweep was completed.

(Dec. 31, 1969)

The defendant’s consent to search his residence was voluntary, even though it was induced by an officer’s false statements. After receiving information that the defendant was selling marijuana and cocaine from his apartment, an officer went to the apartment to conduct a knock and talk. The officer untruthfully told the defendant that he had conducted surveillance of the apartment, saw a lot of people coming and going, stopped their cars after they left the neighborhood, and each time recovered either marijuana or cocaine. The exchange continued and the defendant gave consent to search. Based on the totality of circumstances, the consent was voluntary.

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